This article first appeared on Nov. 20, 2013 in USC’s Daily Trojan.
In the recent weeks, many professionals and social media gurus have warned young adults and teenagers to be wary of what they in public, and especially what they post on Facebook. Two people that should have gotten that heads up are Liz and Mary Cheney, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s two daughters.
On Nov. 17, Liz Cheney, the elder of the sisters, who is also running for a senate seat in Wyoming as a Republican, said on Fox News Sunday that she is opposed to same-sex marriage and supports a “traditional definition of marriage,” according to USA Today. Her younger sister Mary, who married her partner Heather Poe in 2012, challenged her statement on Facebook.
“Liz — this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree you’re just wrong — and on the wrong side of history,” Mary Cheney posted on Facebook.
The few weeks have mirrored the sisters’ debate. Last week, residents in Hawaii and Illinois made same-sex marriage legal in their states, making a total of 15 U.S. states (and the District of Columbia) where it has been legalized. In many more states, local state governments are considering legalizing same-sex marriage.
Liz Cheney’s outcry over her sister’s lifestyle choice is a political choice — one that she seemingly has only recently adopted. In response to her sister-in-law, Poe wrote that her sister-in-law was originally happy for the couple.
The sudden change in opinion seemingly came when Liz Cheney decided to run for political office in Wyoming, a mostly red state, and one in which she did not even reside until last year.
“I can’t help but wonder how Liz would feel if as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other,” Poe wrote on Facebook.
To add to the conversation that is sure to make Thanksgiving dinner awkward, their father, Dick Cheney, has publicly endorsed same-sex marriage. Dick Cheney issued a statement saying he was “pained” to see his daughters differ in opinion in front of a national audience.
The political tension mixed with differing family opinions has strained the sisters’ relationship. According to The New York Times, Mary Cheney once described her relationship with her sister as “being as close as sisters can be.” Since bringing the topic of same-sex marriage to the forefront of the political arena, however, their relationship has not been as strong.
Currently Liz Cheney is wearing two hats, but neither one too well. As a sister, she is failing to be supportive. As a politician, Liz Cheney is changing her values and beliefs, seemingly for political gain. Both should be considered troublesome as she moves forward in her campaign.
It is no secret that Liz Cheney faces a difficult battle against conservative Republican incumbent Mike Enzi in Wyoming. A recent poll said that Liz Cheney is currently 50 points behind the Senator, according to The Hill. Cheney has shown that she is willing to fracture the lifelong relationship with her sister for the sake of attracting a larger conservative vote.
As a Republican candidate heralding the values of family, Liz Cheney has looked past her own family in order to garner as much support as possible. Though her sister might not live the same lifestyle as she does, she should still support her.
And if Poe is to be believed, Liz Cheney was once supportive of her sister’s union — but only when her political career was not at stake.
Valuing politics over family is a faulty decision because though politics change and shift, members of the family are constant. Though the sisters’ words have ignited a national debate, perhaps Liz Cheney should solidify her beliefs behind closed doors before presenting them to the public.